A new report states taking power away from London could help boost the Derbyshire economy.
‘Empowering Counties’, the report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) says giving counties power over their economic potential could boost the national economy and help rural areas overcome problems such as low wages and a mismatch in skills.
The proposal, a first for local government in a two-tier area, would give local councils the opportunity to control how money raised locally from business rates is spent, rather than it going to Whitehall for reinvestment nationally.
Councillor Anne Western, leader of Derbyshire County Council, said: “The IPPR report says that counties have the potential to be the driving force behind national economic growth, a point we have been making strongly to Ministers during our negotiations over the East Midlands devo deal.
“The city, district and county partnership behind the East Midlands devolution deal is an extremely strong one and we are focused on getting the best possible deal for local people and businesses. This could be a once in a generation chance to secure the economic growth for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire that devolution will deliver, it is vital that we don’t let this opportunity pass by.”
The findings from the report come as a team of 19 local authorities and the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership are in final negotiations with Government over a devolution deal which would drive co-ordinated economic growth in the counties of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and cities of Derby and Nottingham.
A devo deal for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire would see vital decisions affecting local people on issues such as housing, transport, economic development and skills being taken locally, rather than in London.
The IPPR report says the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire devolution bid is “well balanced and reflects the whole geography, both urban and rural”. It also says, “the Midlands ‘Engine’ is gathering momentum and Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire are strategically placed to take advantage, being the location that links the engine with the Northern Powerhouse.
If successful, the East Midlands devolution deal could help deliver 55,000 new jobs by 2023, 77,000 affordable new homes by 2020, £1bn regional investment Bank for local businesses to secure funding, better connected towns and cities with improved experience and quality of essential travel, a further education approach that is focused on business need.
Councillor Alan Rhodes, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Half of England’s population live in counties and we are home to more active businesses than anywhere else in the country, but there is a feeling that we have often been overlooked for significant growth funding in the past, in favour of big city regeneration.
“I have always firmly believed that there is massive, untouched potential in county areas to deliver the growth the country needs. East Midlands devolution is unique opportunity for the counties of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, working alongside our city partners, to make a huge difference to county residents, delivering the jobs, better skilled workforce and higher wages we crave for our communities.”